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metal polishing #524666
01/25/14 1:44 pm
01/25/14 1:44 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 23
montana, usa
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Dave, mt Offline OP
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montana, usa
Im thinking of getting back into metal polishing and was wondering what you all do for your needs, do it yourself or send it out? As a teenager back in Birmingham I had a brief stint as a metal polisher and here in the states I tried it for a couple of years out of my garage, the wife was not happy !
So any input from you british bike buffs out there would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: metal polishing [Re: Dave, mt] #524669
01/25/14 1:59 pm
01/25/14 1:59 pm
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 1,495
UK Berks
A
AngloBike Online content
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UK Berks
I don't know if I do it "right" but I have a Ryobi bench grinder that I fit a mop to.
It may be a tad underpowered but I have used it to polish up some bike bits and old die cast theatre lights.

There's a trend here to polish up old Rank Strand Patt 23's (theatre lights) to an almost chrome like finish.

I've been lucky in that most of my bike cases don't have massive dinks and scratches.

Several mops and some polish/rouge bought at atuojumbles.

I do it outside to keep the mess down.

Re: metal polishing [Re: Dave, mt] #524674
01/25/14 2:07 pm
01/25/14 2:07 pm
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,321
Medford, Oregon
Gary E Offline
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Dave,

I polish the small stuff. I have a polisher guy that does it on the side from his normal paying job. He is far better at it than me. I give the big parts to him after prepping them; cleaning, blasting, nick/ding, and scratch removal. It's a part of restoration, in my opinion, that I typically do not enjoy. Glad to see you interested in taking it on.


1967 BSA Wasp
1967 BSA Hornet (West Coast Model)
1967 BSA Hornet (East Coast Model)
1968 BSA Firebird Scrambler
1968 BSA Spitfire Mark IV
Re: metal polishing [Re: Gary E] #524710
01/25/14 6:20 pm
01/25/14 6:20 pm
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 134
SW Iowa
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Rick T Offline
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SW Iowa
I have done both. I hate polishing. However, with so many projects it just has become an economic necessity to do my own polishing on most parts.

I have hired out some polishing with mediocre results. Having said that, the vendor I have used has been fairly reasonable on price ($75 on primary cases). I received a quote from another vendor at $300 for polishing alloy primary cases! I was stunned at that. Can't afford to spend that kind of money on polishing.

Rick T


1952 Mat G80CS
1953 AJS 18CS
1954 Mat G9B
1954 G80CS
1955 Mat G80CS
1956 AJS 18CS
1957 Mat G80
1957 AJS 30
1958 AJS 18CS
1958 AJS 31CS
1959 Mat G80TCS
1960 Mat G80CS
1961 Mat G12CS
1961 Mat G12
1962 Mat G15/45
1964 Mat G12CSR
1966 Mat G12CSR
1967 Mat G15
Re: metal polishing [Re: Dave, mt] #524716
01/25/14 6:54 pm
01/25/14 6:54 pm
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,557
Maui Hawaii
HawaiianTiger Online content

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Maui Hawaii
A couple tips.
First, it's amazing what you can accomplish with 0000 steel wool and Semichrome. I know, I have the polishing wheel and six different grades of compounds.
Second, Lucas makes a metal polish that isn't quite as good as Semichrome, but you get about 16ozs of the stuff for the same money as the 2oz tube. And that satisfies my Scottish miser DNA quite nicely.
Cheers,
Bill


Bikes
1974 Commando
1985 Honda Nighthawk 650
1957 Thunderbird/T110 "Flying Tiger"
Antique Fans: Loads of Emersons (Two six wingers) plus gyros and orbiters.
Re: metal polishing [Re: HawaiianTiger] #524744
01/25/14 9:14 pm
01/25/14 9:14 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 6,742
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Never heard of the cornstarch thing mentioned in the link for Simichrome...I'll have to try that

http://www.simichrome-polish.com/


Jon W.


1957 6T Thunderbird 650
1968 T100R Daytona 500
1971 TR6R Tiger 650
1970 BSA A65F 650
1955 Tiger 100 - Project

Re: metal polishing [Re: Dave, mt] #529447
02/21/14 9:00 am
02/21/14 9:00 am
Joined: Feb 2014
Posts: 27
Melbourne, Australia
C
chassa Offline
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Melbourne, Australia
Hi Dave, give it a go. I have a metal polishing business down here in the land of Oz & it is a dirty job but someone's got to do it! Not too many young blokes interested in getting their hands dirty these days.
Though I'm not sure you could make a living out of just doing bike/car parts. It's hard to justify what you need to charge to cover rent, power, materials, wages etc. as Rick T has found. $300.00 for a primary case is probably what you need if that's all you're doing!
We mainly polish for the transport trailer & architectural industries, but still do a few bike parts as I find it more rewarding in a non financial way to see the finished product.


1950 Dominator 7
1948 International 30
1951 International 30
Re: metal polishing [Re: Dave, mt] #529450
02/21/14 9:40 am
02/21/14 9:40 am
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 4,676
Rotherham - S. Yorkshire
Allan Gill Online happy
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I do all my own polishing. At 28 I'm not afraid to get my hands/clothes mucky and always come out covered in spots of polish. Its hard work, but its a skill and its better and cheaper than paying someone to do it. I'm not saying I am good or anything like that, but when doing your own things you have the opportunity to do it again at another time if your not happy.







These are examples of what I have done with little experience but enough patience to have a second or third attempt. The one thing I have learnt very quickly is if you use too much polish on the mop, you pretty much ruin the mop. I think also various mop widths are important. I had to use the little mops that come with a dremel to get in the fins of the rocker cover.

My grinder uses typically 6" mops and was the one what was recommended by the polishing shop. After using it, I sometimes think a more powerful machine would have been better, that said applying too much force against a more powerful machine would produce scooping into the case.

I also use a sanding belt with different grades to remove any deep scratches or dents before I start, and before polishing I use a "used" fine grade belt which is very smooth, its enough to remove any polishing scratches and leaves a smooth dull finish.

(If anyone knows if mops can be cleaned, please let me know)


beerchug
Re: metal polishing [Re: HawaiianTiger] #529452
02/21/14 10:15 am
02/21/14 10:15 am
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 101
NY
S
sciadventurer Offline
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NY
Originally Posted By: HawaiianTiger
A couple tips.
First, it's amazing what you can accomplish with 0000 steel wool and Semichrome.
Bill


I concur. During another of our snow storms this past month, I tackled some 50 year old Ducati alloy wheels in order to ease cabin fever. Steel wool, starting with medium (1) by hand then proceeding through fine grades (00) and (000) and ultra fine (0000) cut through the work much faster and better than wet/dry finishing papers. Once you start seeing the results the process becomes much less tedious.

Re: metal polishing [Re: Dave, mt] #529454
02/21/14 10:28 am
02/21/14 10:28 am
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 2,514
Springfield Nebraska
Richrd Online content
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Springfield Nebraska
I do a lot of polishing, and as you can see there are many ways to do it. I can get most parts finished to "good" results in a half hour or less. From there, it takes about 30% more time for each 10% improvement. So it's all in what the person paying me wants.

One thing that should be pointed out is there is sometimes a very thin layer of GOOD alloy and sanding out dings and scratches can easily penetrate that layer and then the surface will be porous and no way to fix.

I saw a "new" primary cover purchased from a large vender that was polished thru to this layer and looked like it had been shot with .22 bird shot. It was terrible.


Rich (member ThreeMustGetBeers)
"It's not always about going fast. Sometimes it's nice to slow down" (Wendy E.2016)

69 bonney
72 commando
75 commando interstate
06 Suzu..Suzu.. uh appliance
couple of beesas a ducati
and the Snake Bike
Re: metal polishing [Re: Dave, mt] #529501
02/21/14 2:43 pm
02/21/14 2:43 pm
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,557
Maui Hawaii
HawaiianTiger Online content

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Maui Hawaii
I haven't seen much of that with unit bikes. The biggest culprit is pre unit outer gearbox covers. If you are lucky enough to score a NOS one, DO NOT over polish that puppy. Right below the surface is an ocean of tiny bubbles waiting to be exposed.
When I want to polish a rough one, I start with Rol-lok discs from 3M. They have a variety of grades of pads that are use with your high speed die grinder. The last abrasive I used is 320 or 400 wet or dry and block the entire surface. This makes a huge difference as a perfectly smooth and wave-free surface will look like a million bucks when you're done. Side by side with another done by hand or with just the polishing mops will tell the story. The blocked ones look new....

Bill

Last edited by HawaiianTiger; 02/21/14 9:46 pm.

Bikes
1974 Commando
1985 Honda Nighthawk 650
1957 Thunderbird/T110 "Flying Tiger"
Antique Fans: Loads of Emersons (Two six wingers) plus gyros and orbiters.
Re: metal polishing [Re: Richrd] #529523
02/21/14 5:02 pm
02/21/14 5:02 pm
Joined: Sep 2013
Posts: 745
Westminster, Colorado
stubbicatt R.I.P. Offline
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Westminster, Colorado
Originally Posted By: Richrd
I do a lot of polishing, and as you can see there are many ways to do it. I can get most parts finished to "good" results in a half hour or less. From there, it takes about 30% more time for each 10% improvement. So it's all in what the person paying me wants.

One thing that should be pointed out is there is sometimes a very thin layer of GOOD alloy and sanding out dings and scratches can easily penetrate that layer and then the surface will be porous and no way to fix.

I saw a "new" primary cover purchased from a large vender that was polished thru to this layer and looked like it had been shot with .22 bird shot. It was terrible.


Oh great!~ I was considering polishing up the primary and timing side cover of the BSA. Now I'm reluctant.


Hate is a poison which one consumes hoping for another to die.
Re: metal polishing [Re: HawaiianTiger] #529525
02/21/14 5:08 pm
02/21/14 5:08 pm
Joined: May 2011
Posts: 432
england
G
GS DAVE Offline
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england
sharpen the tang of a file on a bench grinder, then traverse it along tthe mop. This will dress your mop true and remove most of your old compound.
If you use quality mops and soap the wheel will cut clean and leave no reside, as long as you do not get the job too hot !!!!

Re: metal polishing [Re: GS DAVE] #529528
02/21/14 5:18 pm
02/21/14 5:18 pm
Joined: May 2011
Posts: 432
england
G
GS DAVE Offline
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england
I use Menzerna polishing compounds, don't be shy with the amount you use. The more applied the quicker the cut, you need to run at 2850rpm with a high power bench grinder..

Re: metal polishing [Re: HawaiianTiger] #529563
02/21/14 8:51 pm
02/21/14 8:51 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 6,742
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That Thunderbird primary cover is stunning Bill !! Be-u-ti-full !!


Jon W.


1957 6T Thunderbird 650
1968 T100R Daytona 500
1971 TR6R Tiger 650
1970 BSA A65F 650
1955 Tiger 100 - Project

Re: metal polishing [Re: Dave, mt] #529571
02/21/14 9:37 pm
02/21/14 9:37 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 2,514
Springfield Nebraska
Richrd Online content
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Stubb, just be careful with the sanding and stop if you see something you don't like.


Rich (member ThreeMustGetBeers)
"It's not always about going fast. Sometimes it's nice to slow down" (Wendy E.2016)

69 bonney
72 commando
75 commando interstate
06 Suzu..Suzu.. uh appliance
couple of beesas a ducati
and the Snake Bike
Re: metal polishing [Re: Jon W. Whitley] #529651
02/22/14 10:49 am
02/22/14 10:49 am
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 4,676
Rotherham - S. Yorkshire
Allan Gill Online happy
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Rotherham - S. Yorkshire
Originally Posted By: GS DAVE
I use Menzerna polishing compounds, don't be shy with the amount you use. The more applied the quicker the cut, you need to run at 2850rpm with a high power bench grinder..


Cheers Dave, I'll try that bigt

Originally Posted By: Jon W. Whitley
That Thunderbird primary cover is stunning Bill !! Be-u-ti-full !!


+1 Thats too nice to fit on a bike.


beerchug
Re: metal polishing [Re: Allan Gill] #529662
02/22/14 12:29 pm
02/22/14 12:29 pm
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 40
Crozet, VA
R
robertllr Offline
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Crozet, VA
Re the second and third pics down of that BSA single. See all those fine scratches? That's the problem I'm having with getting a satisfactory shine on my original 1970 TR6C timing, primary, and gearbox covers.

I simply can't get a truly smooth finish on these parts. I thought at first perhaps I didn't wet sand fine enough--I only used 600 grit, so I went back and did a portion of it all the way to 1000 grit. No change. Then I realized it couldn't be sanding scratches, as the scratches only showed up in the direction of the buffing wheel. I though perhaps my wheels were contaminated, and put on fresh ones. Same thing. I went to a liquid polishing compound--tried several brands--no dice.

I got so exasperated with what I though were equipment or technique problems, I finally picked up a scrap piece of aluminum plate I had in the shop. Using my old wheels, 15 seconds with black compound, another 15 with brown Tripoli and I had a scratch-less, mirror-like finish.

I'm therefore convinced there is something wrong with the covers--alloy composition? Oil in the micro pores? Someone tell me what is going on! I've gotten lovely mirror surfaces on all the bike's alloy (mostly new aftermarket bits like my clip-ons, sprocket, etc.) But all the stock outer covers all look swirly and just not shiny enough.

I'm also still seeing what I would call "staining" a kind of mottled finish--as if the initial corrosion had gone deep into the surface and won't come out.

I'm not seeing problems with big defects under the outer layer as was reported. I just can't get a flat surface. A high-power magnifier shows these spots to look a bit like lichen.

There is also a lot of tiny pitting that only shows up under the magnifier--and it shows up on the alu pate too--so that may be just not enough depth to the cut. But that doesnt show to the naked eye.

Now that T-bird cover--at least from the photo looks more reflective? Tell me, in briht light at the proper angle does it show fine scratches?

Re: metal polishing [Re: Dave, mt] #529665
02/22/14 12:37 pm
02/22/14 12:37 pm
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 10,024
Boston, Massachusetts
J
John Healy Online content
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Posts: 10,024
Boston, Massachusetts
Robert you should be able to bring up the timing and primary covers to a surface free of scratches and blemishes. I think you ned to get some Simichrome to finish up with. The compounds on a buffing wheel will only get you so far. You need some "elbow grease" and finer compounds. Simichrome is the best one I have found.

While the timing and primary covers are die cast, the transmission cover is sand cast and will always who some pits.


Re: metal polishing [Re: Dave, mt] #529672
02/22/14 1:18 pm
02/22/14 1:18 pm
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 3,775
ohio
shel Online content
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shel  Online Content
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ohio
Wenols is also very good but I agree with John, simichrome is the best I've used.


When given the choice between two evils I picked the one I haven't tried before
Re: metal polishing [Re: Dave, mt] #529685
02/22/14 2:40 pm
02/22/14 2:40 pm
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,557
Maui Hawaii
HawaiianTiger Online content

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I try to get the finest finish possible for the final polish. I use white rouge for that. Simichrome is excellent, it's just a bit expensive. There's also Chromglanz which is very similar but lately I've been using Lucas metal polish and love it. It's almost as good as Simichrome, but ounce for ounce about 20% of the cost. It is particularly good on brass, even better than Simichrome there. I do polish more brass than aluminum these days.(Antique fans) Lucas can be used for machine polishing with a wool mop. The finish is amazing.

The alternator cover was polished with frequent riding in mind, in a rather harsh environment for highly polished alloy. Having the finest finish means the next re-polish is easier and the shine lasts longer. The original factory finish was never this shiny.

I use a rasp on my mops to clean then if necessary. The professional way is to never mix compounds and mops. Red rouge for one mop, white for another, etc.

If you want to "see" how fine of surface you have produced, the way to do it is out of the sunlight altogether and under fluorescent lighting only, viewed at various angles. You will be amazed that the finish you thought was flawless is covered in tiny light scattering surface scratches. Only the best of the professionals can manage the "darkest" finishes. Dark meaning the absences of the light scattering scratches that are otherwise invisible.

The only way to get there is with just plain hard work.

I think the alloy used on Triumphs varied in quality quite a bit over the years ans sometimes is mixed with undesirable metals to the point where the alloy nearly qualifies as pot metal. I cite the Triumph die cast primary cover as a good example. There are sometimes noticeable changes is color and hardness from one area to another on these castings. They can sometimes be just horrible.

Also, when alloy corrodes, it doesn't necessarily start at the top and work it's way through. It has worms and if the alloy is corroded enough, they can go all the way through. Chasing these corrosion worms can cause you to end up with a miniaturized version of the part you are working on.....

Bill

Last edited by HawaiianTiger; 02/22/14 2:47 pm.

Bikes
1974 Commando
1985 Honda Nighthawk 650
1957 Thunderbird/T110 "Flying Tiger"
Antique Fans: Loads of Emersons (Two six wingers) plus gyros and orbiters.
Re: metal polishing [Re: Dave, mt] #529691
02/22/14 3:21 pm
02/22/14 3:21 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 2,402
SLO County, CA
D.Bachtel Offline
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SLO County, CA
A tube of Happich will go a long way if you use it only as a finishing touch.


Don in Nipomo ... who has blackened his fingertips too many times.

Re: metal polishing [Re: HawaiianTiger] #529715
02/22/14 6:47 pm
02/22/14 6:47 pm
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,321
Medford, Oregon
Gary E Offline
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Medford, Oregon
Originally Posted By: HawaiianTiger
...If you want to "see" how fine of surface you have produced, the way to do it is out of the sunlight altogether and under fluorescent lighting only, viewed at various angles. You will be amazed that the finish you thought was flawless is covered in tiny light scattering surface scratches. Only the best of the professionals can manage the "darkest" finishes. Dark meaning the absences of the light scattering scratches that are otherwise invisible...

I concur. You will most likely never see flourscent lights at an indoor rod & custom show. Those lights bring out the worst in paint jobs, as well as chrome and polished alloy.

Originally Posted By: HawaiianTiger
...I think the alloy used on Triumphs varied in quality quite a bit over the years ans sometimes is mixed with undesirable metals to the point where the alloy nearly qualifies as pot metal. I cite the Triumph die cast primary cover as a good example. There are sometimes noticeable changes is color and hardness from one area to another on these castings. They can sometimes be just horrible.

I think that applies to BSA alloy too. The quality and consistency of it really varies. Some places on a part will turnout milky no mater how much work is put in to it.

I've had good success with Adam's Metal Polish #1 & #2, and it is a lot more reasonably priced than a tube of Simichrome.


1967 BSA Wasp
1967 BSA Hornet (West Coast Model)
1967 BSA Hornet (East Coast Model)
1968 BSA Firebird Scrambler
1968 BSA Spitfire Mark IV
Re: metal polishing [Re: Dave, mt] #529964
02/23/14 7:30 pm
02/23/14 7:30 pm
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,321
Medford, Oregon
Gary E Offline
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Medford, Oregon

What I use to clean and rough up the polishing wheels and pads



1967 BSA Wasp
1967 BSA Hornet (West Coast Model)
1967 BSA Hornet (East Coast Model)
1968 BSA Firebird Scrambler
1968 BSA Spitfire Mark IV
Re: metal polishing [Re: Gary E] #530010
02/24/14 5:45 am
02/24/14 5:45 am
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 4,676
Rotherham - S. Yorkshire
Allan Gill Online happy
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Allan Gill  Online Happy
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Rotherham - S. Yorkshire
Originally Posted By: Gary E

What I use to clean and rough up the polishing wheels and pads





You don't want to leave that just anywhere! YEOW!

When I was building the Honda, I had a couple of wheel hubs (ally) that requrired polishing, both were a bit grotty but in average condition. I had them both vapour blasted first - both looked great!, when it came to polishing the front hub came up fine, the rear went like a milky "diesel on water" effect. Meant using another hub!


beerchug
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